Mary and I in the Rome train station-- frazzled, but happy
I don't know if this is the best way to travel. We didn't have much
time, as we had two days to see one of the most popular tourist cities
in the entire world, but I don't know that this insane rushing around
thing is really good for one's anxiety levels. Today was a very, very,
very busy day. Nikki, who had been to Rome
a few months before,
recommended that Mary and I take a bus tour to scope out the city. Mary
and I are usually against this kind of thing. A guided bus tour of a
city’s main highlights for people to safely view a new land without
having to interact or adapt, yet still be able to take pictures and say
that you’ve “ been to” all these famous places, is something that
divides tourist from traveler.
Some market-ness by the train station
However, we only really had two days in
which to see Rome, so we sucked up our pride and went on it anyway.
After we grabbed our free yummy chocolate croissants and orange juice
(which we learned to love), there we were, sitting on a silly bus with
silly little red earphones (we didn’t even get to have a real
guide...), gliding around the city, feeling really, really American. In
the bad way. Even though it wasn’t remotely authentic, we got a good
basis of where everything was. We also gleaned a little bit of info
about each place, none of which I remember, of course. The architecture
of the regular buildings of Rome reminded me a lot of other European
cities, but the old, “famous” pieces of architecture were, as expected,
unparalleled. Everything was so beautiful, and sooooo big.
The streets of Rome from the silly bus
cannot describe it in words.
We made a plan to see as many of the sights as possible on the first
day and to save the Vatican and St. Peter’s for the second, and finally
got off the bus at Trevi Fountain, which was possibly my favorite
tourist attraction... except for the tourists... OHHH geez. I don’t
think I’ve ever seen so many annoying people in one place. It was
really big and really extravagant. It’s hard to take your eyes away
from it, as corny as that sounds. Mary and I got some pizza (mmm...)
and tried to sift through the clouds to take pictures. There were all
these Italian guys trying to sell these little magnetic stones that
click together... it was a really annoying noise... I got Mary to take
some pictures of me looking fabulous by the fountain to be like La Dolce Vita
More views from the bus
For some reason I’m really excited about doing stuff from movies like
that. Silly silly silly. Then we went to the Spanish Steps, which were
cool, I guess... but it’s... steps. I guess they are cool for being
steps... We “climbed” to the top to see the nice views of Rome. Very
pretty. We could see bits of Italian countryside from the top, too,
which was refreshing. Then we got gelato. Strachiatella. Which I THINK
is chocolate chip. It was good.
Then we got back on the bus
and went to the Colosseum. More lines, more tourists. We didn’t take
any kind of tour, which might have been a mistake. This place is
HUUUUUUGE. It was really neat to see what was underneath the stage
where they kept the animals. Mary and I sat here for a while to try to
imagine what it would be like to go see a competition here.
something Mary took a picture of
One of the
most difficult things about visiting places that are this old is the
constant attempt to make your brain wrap around the concept of HOW old
they are... what was going on then, how different it must have looked,
and also trying understand how I, who am now walking along these same
roads, sitting on these rocks that have stood for thousands of
generations of people, can possibly relate to this and fit into this
ancient picture. It’s troubling. I still don’t know the answer.
We moved on to the Roman Forum, next door. This was exciting for me
because of its historical connections to the theatre. Also, very
surreal. We tried to stand by some English-speaking tour groups that
were passing through so we could learn some bits and pieces about the
The Vittoriano (thanks Mark)
Most of this area is in ruins, so it’s hard to say what it all
used to be unless you’ve got someone whispering it into your ear the
whole time. I picked some leaves from an olive tree here. I really
liked this area. Mary and I walked up the hill at the end of the road
and found a spring, and drank some water from it. I wonder how old that
spring is. Then we took a little adventure down the hill trying to find
this church I wanted to find... we got a little lost, but found the
Santa Maria Church with La Bocca della Verità, or “The Mouth of Truth.”
Again, being a little too excited about fulfilling my movie fantasies
(it’s got to be part of the whole acting thing... some people do it
with Disney, but I do it with classic film). There is a scene in Roman Holiday
when they go to the Mouth of Truth, and Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn
take turns putting their hands in there.
Detail on the Vittoriano
So, of course, I made Mary
stand in line with me so we could do it too. The myth is that if you
are a liar, the mouth will bite your hand off. Mary and I passed the
test, fortunately, after a brief photo shoot. Then we went inside the
church. It was cool, but you get a little jaded by churches in Europe.
Take a break? Oh no. Pressing onward, trying to cover as much ground as
possible, we went to the Piazza Navona, which was pretty. It had a nice
fountain. I am not giving all these things in Rome very much credit
because we were having SUCH a crazy day that it’s all kind of a blur of
awesomeness in my memory. Behind Piazza Navona is the Pantheon, which
is what we went to next. It’s that building with all the columns, and
is supposedly the best preserved building in Rome.
More cool stuff
The inside has a
really cool dome with a hole in the top, which is apparently really
neat when it rains. This is also how the building gets its light. Oh,
the Romans and their architecture.
Then we did a silly
thing and went BACK to Trevi Fountain. This was entirely because of me.
I had read somewhere that when you go to Trevi Fountain you are
supposed to toss a coin over your shoulder into the fountain and make a
wish. They say that if you throw a second one in, that means you will
come back to Rome. I wonder who “they” is. Again, I am silly, so I am
really into that stuff, and I made us go back and throw in two coins a
After this it actually did start raining a bit, and
we were exhausted, so we went back to the hostel briefly to change and
Castel Sant'Angelo, from the bus (again, thanks Mark)
We thought this would be the best time to shower since
there was so much competition in the morning and late evening in our
ONE shower. Then we wandered around the area by our hostel looking for
somewhere to eat dinner. We LOVE Italian food, so even though it was a
chore, it was a lot of fun searching around the street menus for our
favorite dishes. We decided on this one place that had penne a la
vodka, which I am a big fan of. Our waiter was really quiet and
awkward. He also didn’t know much English, which made things tricky.
This is when Mary and I started getting confused about what “prego”
really means, as they seem to use it in many different situations. Here
we had the most AMAAAAAZING proscuitto and melon (cantaloupe, in this
situation) I have ever had.
The Tiber River. from bus.
It sounds a little weird, but the
contrasting tastes of salty and sweet somehow complement each other
perfectly. I will never forget it. I love food. Our pasta was all
right... I was not impressed by my vodka sauce. I think it might have
been here where we realized that one almost always has to pay a sitting
fee AND pay for the bread at an Italian restaurant. Lame.
When we got back to the hostel at the end of the day, we chatted with
the people in our room-- a guy from Nottingham and his Australian
girlfriend, and two Germans. We didn’t talk much, though, because we
knew we needed to get up at the crack of dawn the next morning to go to
the Vatican Museum. Mary and I tried to flip my mattress over in hopes
that it would be less lumpy on the other side. It wasn’t. At least this
time I got to borrow some earplugs from Mary so I didn’t have to hear
any drunken singing before we got up at 6:00 AM...